Five Christmas waste swaps to help both tread lightly on the planet and have a brilliant Christmas


Wrapping paper


Presents wrapped in brown paper, newspaper and fabric

Wrapping that is all or partly shiny and metallic can’t be recycled so swap to the non metallic kind or try these options

  • Newspaper, reused and easily recycled, with reusable ribbon to give a Christmassy look
  • Fabric and ribbon, both ideal for reuse
  • Brown paper, well suited to recycling, along with reusable ribbon

Christmas catalogues


Christmas catalogues

With so many shops now online printed Christmas catalogues are an extra rather than an essential.

  • Ring or e mail every organisation that sends a paper catalogue and ask them not to. General Data Protection Regulations allow people to opt out of postal advertising addressed to them by name. Sadly this doesn’t extend to junk mail addressed to occupier or with no name or address
  • Use the company’s website instead to find out about their products.

Christmas trees

book Christmas tree

Library Christmas tree

Buying a tree grown in a field on a farm, admiring it for a couple of weeks and then taking it to a council tip is the maximum waste approach. Instead you could

  • Buy a container grown tree, keep it in the garden and bring it in every year
  • Buy an artificial tree and use it every year
  • Or even better a second hand artificial tree and use it every year
  • Use your creativity for an eye catching substitute for a Christmas tree. Everything from decorating a large pot plant to arranging fairy lights in a tree shape on a blank wall celebrates Christmas without the waste. This Christmas tree substitute was created by staff at Allesley Park Library in Coventry a couple of years ago.

Christmas cards

Christmas cards

Christmas cards

Most Christmas cards can be recycled which is good news. But to make sure they will end up at the paper mill and to minimise the number that end up in the recycling bin you could

  • Cut out work place Christmas cards by taking in home made mince pies or Christmas cake and handing the goodies around instead of cards.
  • Save this year’s cards to reuse next year as present labels and decorations
  •  Buy cards which can be recycled – that means no glitter or metallic decoration
  • Make cards at home using ordinary coloured paper that can go in kerbside recycling
  • Ask kids with distant  relatives who are handy with Whatsapp to record a Christmas hello video as an alternative to cards
  • Send e cards

Christmas food waste

Brussel sprout casserole

Image by Lebensmittelfotos from Pixabay

Last time Coventry City Council investigated what kinds of waste people were throwing away they found 37 per cent was food waste. According to the UN a third of food produced for people to eat is wasted.

  • Buy individual cuts of meat rather than a whole chicken or turkey
  • Remember food doesn’t have to be thrown away as soon as it reaches the best before date
  • Put uncooked food waste such as potato peelings in the garden compost
  • Learn how to make brussel sprout casserole 
  • Make stews or curries from leftover chicken or turkey and freeze them in family meal sized tubs for a home made ready meal
  • Fry up leftover vegetables